Archivi giornalieri: 04/04/2011
No matter how hard Skype and others try to convince us otherwise, we still do most of our web communications via text or, if entirely unavoidable, by voice. Maybe we’re ludittes or maybe video calling has yet to prove its value. Hoping to reverse such archaic views, researchers at the MIT Media Lab have harnessed a Kinect’s powers of depth and human perception to provide some newfangled videoconferencing functionality. First up, you can blur out everything on screen but the speaker to keep focus where it needs to be. Then, if you want to get fancier, you can freeze a frame of yourself in the still-moving video feed for when you need to do something off-camera, and to finish things off, you can even drop some 3D-aware augmented reality on your viewers. It’s all a little unrefined at the moment, but the ideas are there and well worth seeing. Jump past the break to do just that.
Looking for your fibrous dose of gadget leak? Look no further than China which has, again and again, outed several spy shots of what appears to be the Xperia X10 Mini Pro’s successor. Dubbed the SK17i and codenamed “Mango,” this time we’re looking at some proof of Android 2.3 on this little Sony Ericsson slider, along with a homescreen UI not dissimilar to that of the X10 Mini and X8 series. Other than that, we’re not seeing anything new here, though we can’t help but wonder if the unused Xperia Duo trademark has finally found its rightful owner — you know, maybe Duo as in a two-part slider phone? As always, only time will tell.
During the late ’90s and early ’00s, the hype bubble grew large about a number of ideas that never reached critical mass. WebTV was going to democratize the Internet, but it devolved into a market niche after being acquired by Microsoft. WiFi providers such as MobileStar and later Cometa Networks hoped to build vast WiFi networks that would compete with cellular plans. Those bubbles popped back in the day, but curiously, companies are now willing to pump some energy back into them. The question is whether they are in any better position to float this time around.
TV and the Web. WebTV and its MSN TV successors faced a number of challenges trying to create a Web experience on a standard-definition television, and didn’t help their prospects much with a subscription model. Since those days, the PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii have both implemented basic Web browsers, but now a new generation of TVs and add-on boxes are making the leap too, with Google TV-based devices from Logitech and Sony in the market since last fall, and Samsung recently announcing that its new generation of smart TVs will include a full Web browser. Today’s flat-panel HDTVs overcome the limited resolution and interlaced displays that challenged WebTV, and most of the plug-ins of that era have faded away on their own, with Flash being the only modern sticking point.
The $350 ContourGPS sits among the top-tier of consumer-friendly helmet cams, but it’s always posed one major problem: you can’t really tell where it’s pointing. Sure, it shoots a pair of wicked lasers out of the front, but it’s always a challenge to gauge the extents of its 135 degree lens. We knew there was a secret trick in there waiting to be unleashed, which we got to play with at CES, and now here it is. Contour has released its Connect View functionality for iOS, letting you view live footage from the camera right on your phone. Keep reading for our full impressions.
If you didn’t jump on an Alpha A33 when you had the chance, you’ll probably be disappointed when your eyes glaze over the next few words — Sony has discontinued production of the translucent mirror-packed shooter. On its site, the company has noted that production has halted in Japan, without specific reasoning as to why — though some might say that overheating sensor was just too much to bear. It’s not often that a seven month-old DSLR gets canned, but if Sony’s got a refined sensor waiting in a doubly refined successor… well, that’ll put a plug in the waterworks real quick.
Your standard mouse may do it on the table, but 3D mice do it with extra dimension — some of the time, anyway. Quit 3ds Max and suddenly you have one axis too many on your hands. After all, the vast majority of applications are 2D to match mice that may exist in a 3D reality but are limited to a decidedly dual-dimensional existence. No more. 3Dconnexion, makers of a couple different controllers with depth, has released 3DxWare, a Mac or Windows driver that enables exciting 3D mice to work with boring 2D apps. The first video after the break shows some one-handed zooming and browsing, while the second has you cutting and mixing in Final Cut Pro — again with nary a keyboard or controller in sight. The software is free if you have a compatible mouse, but if not you’ll be paying between $99 and $399 for a suitably compliant critter.
There’s no shortage of devices that aim to replace your always-missing remote control with your always-present smartphone, and the Peel is one of the more recent and unique entries into the space. A software / hardware combination consisting of a “Peel Fruit” and accompanying iOS app, the package brings a new approach to finding what to watch — and it’s unlike most other smartphone-IR options we’ve encountered so far. Does it all come together, or are we left wishing for more? Read on past the break to find out!